There are several Greek words translated 'life' in the New Testament. For example, one is 'bios', which refers to physical life. It is the root of the words 'biology', and biography, which is the written (graph) life (bio) of someone. Another word translated life is 'anastrophe', which means a quality of life, a behavior of life.
But, when talking about God's quality of life, we see the word 'Zoe' used, often combined with 'aionios', which means 'age-long' or 'eternal.'
Zoe is the life that comes from God and is therefore self-existing and self-sustaining.
To the world, we look like just another person and our lives look like 'bios', natural life. But residing in our spirit man we have the 'zoe aionois', life eternal - God's life. That life in our spirit which is self-sustaining and self-existent, is flowing out to and changing our soul - our mind, intellect, emotions - in a life-long process, flowing out to the world and people around us.
Because our true life is eternally self-existent and self-sustaining, we should cherish what we have deep in our souls. It is a mystery to those on the outside who think we live by mere philosophy or believe superstition.
The mystery of godliness
In I Timothy 3:9 and 3:16 Paul talks of the 'holding the mystery of godliness in a clear conscience' and 'great is the mystery of godliness'. That mystery of godliness involves the fact eternal life, Zoe, has recreated our spirit-man. It is a mystery to those on the outside, to those not in the body of Christ.
To others we are foolish, but to those who believe, the cross is the power of God. The word 'mystery' or in the Greek, 'musterion', does not mean something which cannot be known. It means something revealed by revelation.
The word means something known after having been initiated into the mystery. In other words, it can only be known by revelation. For instance, before you were born again the Word of God made no sense to you. But once born again, which was your initiation into the kingdom, the mysteries of the kingdom of God were and continue to be revealed to you. Revelation knowledge is given by God to those who have been born into the family, adopted into the family of God. (Ephesians 1:3--5...)
Paul used this same root to describe how he lived. In Philippians 4:10-13 he thanks them for their financial support when he left there to go to Thessalonica (The end of Acts 16 and start of Acts 17). He tells them he wasn't coveting the gift, but was thankful for it. He made a statement that doesn't come across with the same dramatic tone that it does in the Greek, so allow me to write a Greek translation of v11-13:
"...I have learned this truth; I know how to be self-sufficient, independent of circumstances. I know how to be brought low, I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have been initiated into the mystery of how to abound while being full or hungry. That is: In all things I have strength in the One strengthening me."
Most people know the King James Version which says;
'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me', and take it to mean if they can just tough it out, if they can just hang on, if they can just try a little harder, God will come through for them.
But that's not what it says. Paul is sharing his heart and life experience to the Philippians, and indeed his letter to them is his most intimate and revealing of all his letters. He shares how he has been initiated through a mystery, discovered in times of lack and times of abundance. That mystery is that eternal life in Christ makes him self-sufficient, independent of circumstances, for he can do all things through the one strengthening him.
It is through the initiation into the mystery of eternal life that we learn our lives in Christ are in fact independent of any circumstance swirling around us. Our life in Him is not dependent nor affected by circumstance. It is eternal life, Zoe life, the eternal life of God which is self-sustaining. That's Life.
That is why towards the end of his life, the apostle John when writing his gospel and his first letter, of all the things he could have said of Jesus, chose to emphasize: "In Him was life, and that life is the light of men' and 'for the life was manifested'.
Again, we need to realize that each one of us belong to a special 'club', as people who have been initiated into the mysteries of eternal life, the mysteries of godliness. When I was first saved I heard the term that the army of the Lord is the only army that shoots its wounded. That's so sad.
When I sit in one of our house church meetings across the living room from someone, I look at them and see the grace of God - a fellow initiate into the eternal life of God and its mysteries. I esteem them for the life they have in Him and what He has done in their lives. Jesus loves them equally as He loves me. We are equals.
In Galatians 2:9 Paul says that Peter, James, and John extended the hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas, when they 'perceived the grace in us'. These men had very different ministries, for the 3 were sent to the Jews while Paul and Barnabas were sent to Gentiles. Those differences could have divided them, but instead they esteemed one another for they perceived the grace in each other's lives.
We must realize what we have when we say 'eternal life' and live in a way that esteems, respects, and cherishes that life. We should do all we can to protect that life, to not grieve the Holy Spirit. To actually apply long suffering and making allowances one for another. Love fulfills God's law, and it is easier to walk in love if you realize fellow believers have the same eternal life you do - they've been initiated into the mysteries of God.
Of all that the Father has brought you through, from the start when you just wanted saved so you wouldn't go to hell or you needed rescued from some circumstance in your life, to now when you realize you have the life of God in your spirit, let us focus on that special fact. Let us focus on that unique truth among us, that in Jesus Christ is life, abundant life, the life that came from His Father, and He has given it to us. Wow, what amazing grace!
New subject next week, until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org